A Day on the Spey: Whisky Treasures at the Macallan Distillery in Scotland

Rocco Forte Hotels

The Macallan Legacy Experience is no ordinary whisky tour; it's a journey into the heart of Scotland, showcasing not only the meticulous craft behind the spirits but also some of the country’s remarkable countryside. 

Start the adventure with a helicopter ride from The Balmoral in Edinburgh that sends you soaring over the Highlands, heading northeast to the Macallan Distillery in the spectacular Speyside region.

On arrival, you're greeted with a dram of The Macallan single-malt whisky. From there it’s a journey into the magic of the craft – an inside look at the copper stills, the unique ‘wall of whisky’, and a tour through the wood-panelled architectural marvel that is the distillery itself. Following a tasting session at the Fishing Lodge, the day is rounded off with a four-course dinner featuring locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients with expertly paired fine wines.

Flowing through the heart of this experience is the River Spey, Scotland's third-longest and fastest river. A beacon of inspiration for the distillery since its inception nearly 200 years ago, the river is the lifeblood of the landscape and the whiskies alike. The Macallan Whisky Maker, Steven Bremner, recently drew inspiration from its remarkable spirit to create Edition No. 6, selecting five cask styles that echo the unique stories of the Spey and its stunning surrounds. 

This interaction is not just a sentimental one. The water used in The Macallan's whisky production comes from the mountain of Ben Rinnes, filtering down to the distillery through peat and granite. The water from the section of the Spey that flows through the estate is used, via boreholes, to cool down the stills and containers. "We are proud custodians of our stretch of the River Spey, advocating for the sustainability of the wildlife in and around it," wrote Bremner in a piece summarising his philosophy.

The Macallan Ghillie, Robert Mitchell, is another man who cares deeply about the Spey. At the Fishing Lodge, he leads you in a tasting session of rare whiskies, including the 40 Year Old Sherry Oak. But his job stretches beyond that: he is the guardian of the river and the estate. 

He'll guide you through the green and golden surroundings, highlighting the wildlife that thrives there. From the mighty golden eagle to the elusive otter, plus playful red squirrels and dragonflies, the Speyside region is a sanctuary teeming with life. The Atlantic salmon holds a special place in this tableau. The Spey is home to the largest population in Scotland, though they are unfortunately endangered. Recognising this, The Macallan has partnered with The Atlantic Salmon Trust to help conserve the fish. 

At the end of the day, over a meal celebrating the finest of Scotland’s larder, why not raise a toast to the Spey, and all those who care for it. 

The Macallan Legacy Experience, organised by the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, is a journey through Scotland's soul. It's a salute to the land, the spirit, and the mighty Spey. Contact reservations.balmoral@roccofortehotels.com or telephone +44 131 556 2414 to find out more.

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